Children's books

Even at 50 years old, Harriet can rankle readers. All students of children’s literature (in fact anyone interested in children’s literature) should meet her — even those who first encountered Harriet when they were children. The 1960s were turbulent; change was everywhere — including in books for children. First published in 1964, Harriet the Spy marked a sea change in the direction of juvenile fiction. Some people loved it, others had an equally strong and opposite reaction to the book.

Walter Dean Myers was so much more than an award-winning author.  He was a mentor, spokesperson, and friend to many and a trendsetter in children’s and young adult literature.

In his role as the country’s third National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, Walter traveled around the country with an ambassadorial theme: “Reading is not optional.” Not in a democracy, not in the diverse world, not if we want thinking people.

There’s power in words. There is even more power in words that are strung together to tell a story. Stories reveal truths, encourage exploration, generate curiosity, and more. They become a connective tissue between time, people, cultures, and experiences.

There’s special power in a story shared aloud.

A few weeks ago, I witnessed an author reading to an all-adult audience. The specifics don’t matter as much as what I witnessed. Not a sound could be heard in the auditorium of over 300. The only sound was the author’s voice weaving a tale that held listeners rapt.

I admit it. I did not enjoy science and math very much when I was a kid. But new and fresh approaches in books for young readers (and I, of course, am still a young reader at heart) are sure to not only engage but inspire a new generation.  Many new books are sure add to an appreciation of the humanities.

Anna Faulkner acquired a passion for working with students in 2006 as a teacher at Bingham Academy, an international school in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. She moved back to the U.S. to earn her Masters of Education in International Education Policy and graduated in May of 2012.

Earlier this year, I came across a book that struck a personal chord and made me wonder about its genesis. What made it stand out above others?

Then I had a chance to hear the author, Minh Le, talk about it. I knew he had a background in early childhood policy and has two young children of his own.

Teacher questions:

Can you point us to any research regarding the practice of Book In a Bag sending leveled readers home with students each night? What do you think of “Books on the Bus?”

Shanahan's response:

I know of no research on either of these methods for increasing kids’ access to books. I checked both PscyInfo and Google for sources, and nada!

Becky Koons is a Senior Resident Services Manager with AHC Inc. at the Woodbury Park Community Center in Arlington, Virginia. AHC’s Summer Camp program is designed to prevent learning loss — a particular challenge for low-income students — through both educational and enrichment experiences.

How can we teach children about one of our most important natural resources? Gaynelle Diaz combines lots of reading with art, hands-on activities, and field trips to jumpstart a summer full of learning about water and our local rivers.

A picture book that can stand up to multiple readings is a good one in my book. You know what I’m talking about — the books a child wants to hear (or read independently) over and over. These are most books with enough textual and visual interest to engage time and again. But a picture book does so much more.

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"Books make great gifts because they have whole worlds inside of them. " — Neil Gaiman